Monday, February 21, 2011

KPOP on Bloomberg: The Beginning of the End?

Being Featured in the Popular Press Often Signals the Beginning of the End
Some people believe that when the popular press begins to mention a trend/fad, then it is the beginning of the end of its popularity.  There is good reason for this.  The reason is that the popular press in the West is slow to report new trends.  As such, by the time that such news is actually reported, it is the absolute height of popularity, and subsequently, a decline in popularity begins.  If you agree with this idea, then the following report on Bloomberg regarding KPOP isn't welcome news at all.

Here's the link:

Justin Bieber Has Nothing on KPOP in Korea
Are you stunned at the amazing popularity of Justin Bieber around the world?  Well, the best way to compare the group of KPOP stars is to Justin Bieber.  When SNSD, Super Junior, or other groups go to a department store, they are mobbed.  They can forget about going out in public undetected.  Even in Manhattan, a public figure can go and visit places without being mobbed by hundreds of people.  Not possible for a KPOP star.  Starbucks?  Well, there will be a crowd of fans across the street.  Anytime that you go to a coffee shop in Seoul, and you see a crowd?  You can assume, safely, that it is a KPOP celebrity.  It is a pop culture enthusiast's wildest fantasies all coming true at the same time.  The most popular blogs in Korea?  All about KPop.  It's not even close.  You can check for yourself: search for SNSD in Facebook and see what happens.  OMG LOL.    
As Bloomberg accurately reports, KPOP is an enormous export industry.  I wouldn't go as far as Bloomberg:  I would maintain that Samsung Electronics and Hyundai-Kia Motors are still more powerful economic forces. 

It's Not All Great News, Of Course
Inside Korea, of course, there is controversy which surrounds these groups of young singers.  Mostly, they are all below the age of 30.  The girl groups wear skimpy outfits, and great deal has been written about the (s)exploitation of these singers.  For the most part, the members of these groups were assembled by management companies, and not through friendships.  There are ongoing auditions for parts in these groups.   JYP, SM Entertainment, etc: these are household names in Korea, and they are names of entertainment management companies.

Is this the top of the market?
It remains an open question, but for now, the answer is clearly no.  In fact, you might say that there is ongoing, sustainable strength in the export of Korean entertainment.  Korean movies and dramas are actively, and successfully being exported outside Korea.  To Asia, this is not new.  Korean entertainers have been famous in Japan for well over 20 years.  Of course, all groups dream of becoming famous in the US and the Western Hemisphere.  Korean dramas have been translated into Spanish. 
While the genre will most likely survive, it is highly doubtful that any of the individual groups will know long-lasting fame.  A few names have made it:  BoA and Rain remain to be those names that have endured for the longest period of time.  Whether the Wonder Girls, SNSD, Super Junior, KARA, T-ara (and many, many others) will be household names in five years remains a question to be answered. 


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